What Causes an Abscess Tooth – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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What Causes an Abscess Tooth – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

November 1, 2023

A tooth with an abscess can be a distressing dental problem. If you feel dental pain or notice swelling, it’s vital to recognize the origins of an abscessed tooth, its indicators, and the potential remedies. In this blog, we’ll delve into the world of dental health, shedding light on this common problem.

What are Dental Abscesses?

A dental abscess refers to a pus-filled sac that develops either inside a tooth or around the adjacent gums, usually resulting from a bacterial infection. There are different types of dental abscesses, each distinguished by its specific features and origins.

Types of Dental Abscesses

There are two primary types of dental abscesses: periapical abscess and periodontal abscess. The former originates within the tooth’s pulp, while the latter forms in the supporting bone and tissues around the tooth. Understanding the type of abscess is crucial for effective treatment.

Common Causes of an Abscess Tooth

Various elements can contribute to the formation of an abscessed tooth. The primary reason often stems from unresolved tooth decay, enabling bacteria to infiltrate the tooth’s inner structures. Other contributing factors include gum disease, trauma to the tooth, and dental procedures that may introduce bacteria into the tooth.

Bacterial Infection

When it comes to abscessed teeth, bacterial invasion is a leading culprit. Within the tooth’s inner sanctum, the pulp chamber, bacteria can infiltrate and wreak havoc. These microorganisms, including Streptococcus and Staphylococcus species, find their way through cavities or cracks in the enamel.

Tooth Decay (Caries)

Tooth decay, or caries, is a common pathway to an abscessed tooth. It starts innocently enough with the consumption of sugary or acidic foods. Over time, these substances create an environment where bacteria flourish, leading to enamel erosion and eventual penetration of the pulp.

Gum Disease (Periodontitis)

Gum disease, or periodontitis, is another culprit in the abscess tooth saga. When plaque and tartar accumulate along the gumline due to poor oral hygiene, the gums become inflamed. If left unchecked, this inflammation can progress deep into the tooth’s roots, contributing to abscess formation.

Dental Trauma

Sometimes, an unexpected injury can be the spark that ignites an abscess tooth. Trauma, such as a fall or a blow to the face, can cause cracks or fractures in the tooth, allowing bacteria to enter. Even seemingly minor incidents can have serious dental consequences.

Weakened Immune System

A weakened immune system can elevate the risk of an abscessed tooth. Illnesses such as diabetes, HIV, or cancer, along with specific medications, can impair the body’s defense mechanisms, increasing the susceptibility to dental issues.

Recognizing Symptoms

Identifying the symptoms of an abscess tooth is essential for timely intervention. Common signs include severe toothache, sensitivity to hot and cold, swollen gums, a pimple-like bump on the gums, and fever. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek dental care promptly.

Home Remedies for Temporary Relief

While awaiting dental care, you can try some home remedies to alleviate pain and discomfort. Rinsing with warm salt water and over-the-counter pain relievers can provide temporary relief. However, these remedies do not substitute professional treatment.

Asure Dental: Your Trusted Dental Care Provider

Asure Dental is a leading dental care provider in Houston/Katy, known for its commitment to patient care and excellence in dentistry. When facing an abscess tooth, it’s vital to visit a dental office in Houston for a comprehensive evaluation.

Emergency Dentist in Houston – Immediate Assistance

In cases of extreme pain or swelling, you may need to seek the services of an emergency dentist in Houston. These professionals are available around the clock to provide immediate assistance and relief from dental emergencies.

Diagnosing an Abscess Tooth

Physical Examination

To identify an abscessed tooth, your dentist will conduct a detailed examination. They’ll look for indications of inflammation, discoloration, and sensitivity in the impacted region.

Dental X-Rays

In some cases, dental X-rays may be necessary to get a clear view of the abscess’s location and severity. This helps in determining the most appropriate treatment plan.

Treatment Options

Treatment for an abscess tooth typically involves one or more of the following options:


Antibiotics are prescribed to control the infection and prevent it from spreading further.


In some cases, the abscess may need to be drained to remove the pus and alleviate pain and pressure.

Root Canal Therapy

If the abscess has affected the tooth’s pulp, a root canal procedure may be necessary to save the tooth.

Tooth Extraction

In extreme instances where the tooth is beyond preservation, removal might be the sole recourse.

Prevention Measures

While certain dental abscesses might be inevitable, practicing consistent oral care, keeping up with routine dental visits, and promptly tackling dental concerns can minimize your vulnerability.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main cause of an abscessed tooth?

The main reason for an abscessed tooth arises from unresolved tooth decay, leading to bacterial infiltration of the tooth’s core.

Can I treat an abscessed tooth at home?

While you can use home remedies to temporarily alleviate pain, professional dental care is essential for proper treatment.

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